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Menopause Health Center

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Age, Bone Mass Predict Fracture Risk

Study of Postmenopausal Women Shows Depression May Also Be a Risk Factor

Risk Factors continued...

There was a 12% increased risk for 65- to 69-year-olds and a double risk for those 85 and up, when compared with the 50- to 64-year-olds.

History of fracture, low bone mass (as in osteoporosis), and poor to fair self-rated health topped the list of risk factors.

Women who reported they were in poor/fair health had a 71% increased risk compared with women who claimed to be in excellent health.

In addition, black and Asian women had a lower risk for fracture than white women.

Asian women typically have greater risk of fracture, but Siris speculates these women experienced "silent" spine fractures, and as a result did not report them.

Self-reported loss of height was a risk factor for fractures as well, the study showed.

Women with symptoms of depression also showed an increased risk for fracture compared with non-depressed women, according to the new data.

"People with depression probably have a variety of physical problems," Siris speculates. "They may not eat well or sleep well, which could affect their overall health and fracture risk, but we don't know for sure how depression relates to fracture risk."

New Targets for Prevention

"This is a big study with lots of patients that can give us guidance," says Eric Ruderman, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.

"Ultimately, osteoporosis is not the problem -- fractures are the problem. And to the extent that this gives us other targets for fracture prevention, it's helpful," Ruderman tells WebMD.

"It's a wake-up call," he says. "We need to make sure women are getting their calcium and vitamin D [and] doing weight-bearing exercises."

The bottom line is that "we need to make sure that if there are risk factors that can be modified, they are being modified," says Ruderman.

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